Study Links Stress Hormone with Higher Blood Sugar in Type 2 Diabetes

Results highlight importance of reducing anxiety and depression to manage Type 2 diabetes

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – We’re living in particularly stressful times, but keeping that stress in check is critical to overall health. A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University College of Medicine finds this is especially important for those with Type 2 diabetes and documents a clear link between the stress hormone cortisol and blood sugar levels.

     “In healthy people, cortisol fluctuates naturally throughout the day, spiking in the morning and falling at night,” said Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist and researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center who led the study. But in participants with type 2 diabetes, cortisol profiles that were flatter throughout the day had higher glucose levels.”

     These sustained levels of cortisol make it much more difficult to control blood sugar and manage the disease, which is why it’s so important for those with Type 2 diabetes to find ways to reduce stress. The study published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

     “We have begun a new trial to examine if mindfulness practices can lower blood sugar in those with Type 2 diabetes,” said Joseph. “But this isn’t the only effective form of stress relief. It’s important to find something you enjoy and make it a part of your everyday routine.”

    The relationship of cortisol with glucose levels was only observed in those with diabetes. However, Joseph and his team believe the stress hormone likely plays an important role in diabetes prevention and they continue to research the connection between cortisol and the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


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Endocrinologist Dr. Joshua J. Joseph examines a patient at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Joseph led a study that solidifies the importance of stress relief for Type 2 diabetes management, finding higher cortisol levels led to higher blood sugar levels.

Janice Harris has Type 2 diabetes and monitors her blood sugar several times per day. A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds that stress reduction is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle to help manage the disease and control glucose levels.

Janice Harris listens to music to relax and de-stress. A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds stress relief is critical to managing Type 2 diabetes, finding a direct link between cortisol and glucose levels.

Most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes know the importance of exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep, but stress relief is a critical and often forgotten component of diabetes management.

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